In a game full of stoppages, free-position shots and yellow cards, JMU lacrosse was able to pull out its third win of the season Saturday, taking down High Point 12-5. Both teams combined for 65 total penalties on the afternoon, with four yellow cards given out to JMU players.
“I think this is just the reality of our game,” head coach Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe said. “The game is evolving faster than maybe the level of the officials or even the coaches throughout the country. Our ability to stay focused on the controllables throughout the game took a lot of mental discipline to do so, and I thought JMU did a great job doing that today.”
Despite committing more fouls and drawing more cards, the aggressive style actually played into the Dukes benefit. The Panthers were reluctant to shoot on their free-position opportunities, which allowed the JMU defense to be more chippy inside without running the risk of giving up open shots.
JMU’s aggressive style also paved way for the team’s first sizeable advantage in the draw-control battle. After struggling to gain possession through the first three games, the Dukes out-controlled High Point 15-4, with two of the Panthers’ controls coming off called fouls.
“It’s really important, it’s how you’re able to get your momentum going,” senior defender Caroline Sdanowich said. “Just being able to start with the first stop and being able to get the ball first, it really is great to have good draw people.”
It was a back-and-forth affair to begin the game, as both teams traded six goals in the first 15 minutes. After being down 3-2, JMU went on a 7-0 run to grow its largest lead of the game at six goals.
Senior attacker Hanna Haven had a game-high eight points off four goals and four assists, setting a career high in both total points and assists for a single game. Haven leads all players in points (21) four games into the season, as the leading returning in points from last season.
“I felt good, kind of just getting the team up when I needed to,” Haven said. “Getting that first goal really helped getting everyone going and everyone up and excited for the game.”
Haven’s scoring prowess was complemented by junior attacker Logan Brennan, sophomore midfielder Charlotte Haggerty and junior midfielder Kelsey Reed, who each had two goals. In front of the net, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Molly Dougherty had eight saves in 13 shots on goal.
JMU held strong advantages in shots (25-to-17), free-position goals (3-to-1) and caused turnovers (17-to-10). With a new team still in its early portion of the season, the Dukes are slowly beginning to figure out who they are as a group.
“Every game we get a little more feedback, it’s still a really young team,” Klaes-Bawcombe said. “We’re still in the first quarter of the season, and so [we’re] just trying to build confidence from game to game.”
The Dukes will have almost a week off until they play Canisius on Friday. First whistle is set for 5 p.m.
Contact Blake Pace at email@example.com. For more lacrosse coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.